Top of Mind News and Notes: June 2020

Keep up with the latest in the world of mindfulness with this roundup from the Mindful editors.

Film poster by Interesting Stuff Entertainment

Meditation at the Movies

Mindfulness and meditation can be found from schools to boardrooms to prisons—and now streaming in your very own home theater. Written and directed by Rob Beemer, The Mindfulness Movement explores why a growing number of people are practicing mindfulness, and looks at the benefits of meditation. The documentary film features the Mindful staff at work, interviews with executive producers Jewel and Deepak Chopra, as well as Sharon Salzberg, Dan Harris, Congressman Tim Ryan, Richard Davidson, Daniel Goleman, Diana Winston, George Mumford, and more. Each of their stories sheds light on why the practice is spreading so quickly and how the shift toward mindfulness is shaping a happier, healthier society.

“Mindfulness is one of those things that you just want to share,” Beemer told Mindful. “Oftentimes you enter it perhaps because you’re in pain or because you want relief from maybe stress or whatever. And then as soon as you start to see the benefits, it’s so easy to share and the desire is there to share. And it’s just utterly transportable. It’s free. Everybody can do it. It’s secular. The fact is that it all just makes a better society. I think that it brings out the good in so many people.”

Mindfulness is one of those things that you just want to share. Oftentimes you enter it because you’re in pain or because you want relief from stress. And then as soon as you start to see the benefits, it’s just so easy to share, Beemer told Mindful.

The doc also includes two opportunities for audiences to practice while watching. It was slated to premiere in North American cinemas, but screening plans were scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Undaunted, Beemer and team have made The Mindfulness Movement available worldwide to rent or buy online.

A Fresh Take on Meditation

If you thought combining freestyle verse, rhythmic beats, and mindfulness was impossible, prepare to believe otherwise. Toni Blackman, Hip-Hop Cultural Ambassador to the US Department of State and mindfulness teacher, leads Freestyle Union Cypher Workshops—freestyle rapping in a group setting—that serve as a therapeutic way to let people work through their emotions and exchange ideas. People are encouraged to express themselves to the rhythm of a beat. Blackman led a workshop for Black History Month, and has applied the concept to MBA programs, business and nonprofit teams, and school faculties. Blackman’s own work includes a hip-hop meditation mixtape Believe: Meditation Mixtape, featuring rap tracks and guided meditations that promote self-respect and assurance. Blackman’s forth-coming mixtape is titled Clear Your Mind: A Meditation Mixtape.

The Art of Mindfulness

Does your mindfulness practice include drawing yourself as a tree or painting how music makes you feel? It can be a lot of fun, especially for kids. Teaching mindfulness to children can be challenging if they haven’t developed the attention skills required of a traditional practice. A new holistic art-based program at Laurentian University aims to overcome that by using visual arts to teach kids who are dealing with social exclusion and circumstances related to poverty strategies to improve focus, strengthen peer relationships, and identify feelings.

Meditation Is Hard!

Ah, Barbie! The plastic icon who used to represent little beyond a passion for fashion is now on a self-care kick. Mattel released a line of Wellness Dolls with themes of relaxation, spa time, fitness—and meditation. Breathe With Me Barbie comes in light or dark skin tones, and she offers calming phrases such as “Repeat after me: I am strong. I am loved.” (Stay tuned for a Mattel–Headspace collab on a meditation playlist for Barbie’s fans.)

Acts of Kindness

Sunshine Therapy: A photo shared by China Daily—and internationally on social media—shows a simple act of kindness in Wuhan, where Dr. Liu Kai wheeled an 87-year-old man with COVID-19 outside to see the sunset. “The elderly man had been stuck in the isolation ward for nearly a month. I thought the rays of the sun might cheer him up,” said Dr. Liu.

Kid Stuff: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg held a special press conference recently, taking questions from kids, and kids only, about COVID-19. “How can I help?” and “How long does it take to make a vaccine?” were among the queries. Prime Minister Solberg’s main message resonates with young and old alike: “It is OK to be scared when so many things happen at the same time.”

Cello, Neighbor!: Cello-playing siblings Taran, six, and Calliope, nine, in Ohio, gave neighbor Helen Schlam a private porch concert, while 78-year-old Schlam was self-isolated due to COVID-19. The siblings dressed up for the occasion, and Schlam told CBS the music made her feel “sort of like a little kid.”

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